Studding a MUni tire

I just wrote this up for and decided to post it here as well.

I am going to go through how I stud a tire. There are many ways of studding a tire but this is what I found works best for me.

What you need

Drill/stabbing utensil
An extra innertube or other barrier.

Choosing the right tire is the biggest factor in whether you will be happy with your winter tire or not. Generally in winter you want a tire that is as wide as possible and has a relatively open tread. I would not stud an old worn out tire as the whole point of studding a tire for winter is to have the most grip possible. The tire that I am using in this tutorial is a new 26x3.0 Duro Wildlife Leopard.

The best screws to use are #8 self-tapping metal screws at a length that sticks out 1mm to 3mm. On most tires I have done this means a 3/8” long screw but the duro has slightly deeper lugs and I needed to use 1/2” screws. Do not use wood screws as they are made of softer steel and have skinnier points resulting in them wearing faster.

Getting started

The first thing that I did was plan out my stud pattern. I decided to do a pattern that would utilize three different lugs varying from next to the center to the second closest to the edge. Generally I do not put studs in the very center or the very edge as the center will get worn away quickly adding more drag, and the far edges are rarely used. You do not want a screw in every lug as the plain rubber lugs will give better grip on surfaces like rock and clean pavement. I used a grease pencil to mark the lugs that I wanted studs in to help me remember where to make the holes for the screws.

Making the pilot holes

In a few studding tutorials that I have read people suggest using a drill with a 2mm bit to make the pilot holes, this is probably the fastest and easiest way to do it but I think that you should try to keep as much rubber as you can so that it effectively presses against the side of the screw preventing it from popping out.

I used a fork with one tine bent out and sharpened to a point. I would stab then give the fork a spin to make sure that I would be able to see the hole later from the other side. This took me about 15 minutes and the fork got quite warm after a while

Inserting the screws

Once you have all your pilot holes in place turn the tire inside out being careful not to kink the bead of your tire. Now all you have to do is drive the screws into the holes you just made. If the screw does not follow the hole you made just back it out and try again with the screw at a different angle.

Finishing the job.

Some people snip off the heads of the screws with a bolt cutter to save some weight and reduce the risk of pinch flats. I don’t like this practice because it makes it much harder to remove the studs if they need to be replaced. If you do cut off the heads make sure you don’t have any sharp ends pointing inwards.

You want to cover the heads of the screws with something to protect your innertube. The best option is an old innertube split down the middle. Another option is to apply several layers of duct tape to the inside of your tire. I attempted to rubber cement the old innertube to the tire this time but it did not help keep everything in place as well as I hoped during installation so I do not suggest doing it.

Install your tire and go ride

only the second time i’ve seen this… i need to do it somtime…they never plow the sidestreets around here, they all get packed down into hard, smooth, semi-ice…
and winter muni before ski season would be nice as well

Excellent post!

This will really come in handy for my Colorado commutes. When the trail gets packed down, the downhills get really sketchy! :astonished: More sliding than riding this time of year :smiley:

I should do this… My muni tire is worn down anyways, and we’ve still got a few months of winter left…

Hey there, When I did ice racing on my motorcycle, I as well as a lot of other dudes, just put the sheet metal screws in the lugs so the hex heads were the studs, not the points. They wear a lot better and the traction is still good enough to let the handle bars almost drag before they let loose. Maybe the weight of the bike made it possible for the heads to be the studs, but it’s worth a try on a uni cause it’s a lot simpler. We never even used pilot holes… Just screw them into the lugs making sure that they aren’t long enough to go into the tube. Ice… The only time I crashed going backwards.

My studded tire experiences and why I settled on metal screws from inside the tire.

The first set of studded tires that I did I used sheet metal screws from the outside. This was on my bike when I lived in a small town They worked great for the streets which always had at least a few cm of packed snow-ice on the roads. They had great grip and I really liked them.

When I moved to a larger town that would occasionally have bits of bare pavement showing in the winter I noticed that the heads of the screws were wearing down way faster than back home. I also quickly noticed that I would have much more grip on the hard-pack and ice than on the pavement.

This is because the metal screw heads were the only parts contacting the road and the friction coefficient between steel and pavement is MUCH lower than the friction coefficient between rubber and pavement.

The next set of tires that I made I used wood screws. I did not make pilot holes so it was sort of hit and miss for whether the screw came out the center of the tread. If I was not happy with where the screw emerged I would back it out and try again. This ended up taking more time than if I would have done the pilot holes ahead of time.

The screws stuck out by about a cm and they looked MEAN! I had to remove the side screws on my back tire even before I rode on them because they would hit my frame. I got the bike outside and got on. The screws just folded over and I could hardly get going. I pumped my tires up to 60psi to see if it would help with the folding and it did but the tires still felt terrible. when I rode around a snow covered loop it felt like the tires were actively trying to pull me backwards. I did not bother testing them out on pavement and walked over to the hardware store to buy shorter screws.

When I dismantled my failed tire I noticed that many of the lugs were ripped half off from the crews pulling so hard on them. I re-used the tire but put the new screws on different lugs. I first tested out the tires with the new shorter screws on a skating rink and they had AMAZING grip… but the super pointy studs quickly wore down even before testing what they would do on pavement. I tried them out on a clear patch of road and they felt a little bit squirreley but the grip was not bad. The screws only lasted about a week before becoming short rounded and mostly useless.

The next thing I tried was regular metal screws (like what I used in the tutorial). They provided almost as much grip as the brand new wood screws but held their point much longer. Their grip on hardpack and ice was quite good and the handling and grip on dry pavement was improved. These lasted the rest of the winter and showed little wear compared to the other systems I tried.

Halfway through the next winter the studs were starting to get a bit worn so I replaced the screws on the back tire with self tapping style metal screws. I was expecting improved grip and increased drag due to the fresh screws but only noticed the improved grip. The new studs would bite into the ice and prevent slipping but the lack of threads on the ends stopped them from sticking to the ice. I then replaced the screws on the front tire as well and noticed that my grip was about the same as when the other screws were new but there was less rolling resistance even when compared to the slightly worn screws.

Those screws lasted for two years until I stopped riding my bike very much in the winter anymore after switching to a unicycle for transportation.

On a unicycle I have used the self taping metal screws, regular metal screws and made a chain.

So to sum it all up here are the pros and cons I found with each setup.

Sheet metal screws from the outside of the tire:

Pros - Excellent grip on harpack and good grip on ice. No increased risk of pinchflats. Easy to install.
Cons - Wears quickly on pavement, Horrible grip on dry road surfaces. possible to loose screws.
Possibly the best choice if there is no chance of a hard surface that is not covered in snow and ice

Long screws

Pro - Looks cool
Cons - Utterly useless and waste of time. Wrecks your tire, won’t roll well, and dangerous.

Wood screws

Pros - Excellent initial grip on ice, better than the sheet metal screws on pavement.
cons - Wears out quickly, feels a bit odd on pavement, very sharp initially, could be dangerous. Slight road suck (drag)

Regular metal screws

Pros - Last longer than wood screws. Good grip on hardpack and ice. Good handling and grip on dry pavement.
Cons - Slight road suck/drag

Self tapping metal screws

Pros - Lasts the longest of all the screws/studs tried. Chisel point cuts into ice without getting stuck: reduced drag. excellent handling on hardpack, good handling on dry surfaces.
Cons - Can be hard to find in the right length
Best option for a variety of conditions. Also works well on wet/frozen wood.

Tire chains

Pros - looks cool, you aren’t putting screws through your tire so you don’t need a dedicated winter tire
Cons - less grip than studs, more expensive, more finicky, takes more time and planning, additional war to your sidewalls, harder to make.

Yup, things probably don’t translate perfectly from a heavier motorcycle to a unicycle. I had decent grip even after they were worn down from also riding on the road. Another thing that may not translate is riding to town at midnight to buy a six pack and getting chased by the cops. Nothing funnier than having a cop in his cruiser trying to catch a fast motocross bike with studded tires on icy roads…

how hard/frustrating is it to ride in the snow?

im probably going to school next year in detroit (i live in houston now.) and i wanna be sure i’ll be able to ride during the winter.

There are lots of factors to winter riding. Depth of snow, type (wet or dry) ice, hard pack, loose etc. Every ride can bring a new challange. you just need to get out there and give it a go.

You will find days when it is almost impossible to ride and others when it is a great time.

I find for general winter riding that my 24" Duro tire is adequate for most conditions. As well some reasonably grippy pedals help out loads.

While different types of snow will certainly impact your ride in various ways, I think you’ll find that any steep hill is now going to present a new challenge both riding down and going up. You’ll develop your own feel for what conditions ride best for you. In some conditions, bumpy trails smooth out. In others, it will be like riding hard cobblestones.

In Colorado, dry, packed snow, is most comfortable for me. This year, the snowpack helped me overcome the one obsticle I could not ride on the trail to work. The pack smoothed out the toughest section with a couple bumps and a drop. I rode this every day as the snow continued to melt. By the time the snow was gone, I had eased into the full obsticle, and can now ride it with confidence.

While rare here, the most dangerous condition for my morning ride is a sheet of ice covered by a quarter-inch of snow. You won’t know it until it’s too late, which is why the studded tires might be a good idea for some riders.

Protection: You should wear a helmet. When the conditions are bad, cars may also lose control and hit you - at this point you have little control over your own safety, so wear a helmet. In winter conditions, you may need a tight stocking cap that will cover your ears, yet will fit a helmet as well. I have a big head :). I sacrifice comfort for safety, and wear just the helmet. Also, if you wear wrist guards, or protective gloves, you must consider if these will be compatible\sufficient with or without winter gloves.

As mentioned by Harley, your pedals are important too. Don’t use plastic pedals; you’ll slip right off, especially if the snow has packed into the tread of your footwear. A good set of pedals with moderate pins are a must.

Riding in the snow is fun, and totally different, especially on the trail. I welcome the change when it comes. :slight_smile:

I was flipping through a Bailey’s catalog and zeroed in on the replacement Calks that loggers use on the soles of their boots. They are studs that screw into the boot lugs. Case hardened and they are screwed into the lugs with a T-handle wrench. But it may be worth a look. Bailey’s part number 25010 regular sized calks, bag of 50, $7.95. 25012 T-Handle calk wrench, $3.95.

Thanks for that!
Has anyone ever tried snow riding on a 20"???
What was it like?
Were they stupid questions?
This looks like good fun and I recently got a 20" quax
Might try studding a tyre as a school holiday project:D

I have a studded Luna on my trials as my winter tire. It works OK, better than a non studded tire in winter. I used a Luna because the Creepy Crawler tends to get really hard, loose its grippyness and crack in cold temperatures. The Luna seems almost unchaned in -30.

The big dissadvantage of studding a trials tire is the increased risk of pinch flats (and therefore the need for highter pressures). You need that extra layer of inner tube to protect your tube but if you hit rim on the ground from a drop you are almost gauranteed to get a pinch flat from the screw heads.

Winter is here. Time to stud some tires!

I think my next one will be done with car studs. It is not something I have considered until now but from other peoples posts on mtbr it looks like a promising technique.

I’ve found mountaineering shell mittens, without the liners, work well. Go right over the wrist guards, keep the wind off, but not too hot.

Great thread. Tangential to (but not quite off I don’t think) the topic is my question: How do screw-type studs compare to commercial studded tires? If you’re starting with a new tire, it’s not much more expensive to just buy a manufactured studded tire.

I have actually never ridden on commercially studded tires but I have friends who have. If the studs on the commercial tire are just plain steel they will wear out just as fast as the screws but if they have a carbide center they will last much longer especially if ridden on pavement or other hard surfaces.

Commercially studded tires can loose their studs under severe braking/acceleration/turning while this is basically impossible with screws that go through the tire casing.

A DIY studded tire is usually going to be heavier than a comparable commercially studded tire since you need to use a tire liner to protect your tube from the screw heads.

I think the biggest difference though is that you can build up a tire to suit your needs. There are no commercially available 3" studded tires.